Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and high-profile lawyer Ben Brafman have clashed repeatedly in recent weeks over the direction of his sexual-assault case, leading to Brafman’s exit from the defense, a source familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast.
As The Daily Beast reported exclusively last week, Weinstein has been shopping around for new attorneys as his criminal case heads for trial in Manhattan.
Weinstein insisted then that he was just looking to augment the legal team, not replace Brafman. But now Brafman, one of the city’s top attorneys, has decided to quit.
“Ben wants to do everything in the court room and that’s the opposite of Weinstein who wants the case tried in the court of public opinion and not a court of law,” the source said.
Brafman already scored a big victory for Weinstein, getting the charge stemming from one accuser tossed out before trial. But the source said Brafman and Weinstein’s relationship grew tense after the court declined to dismiss charges tied to two other women last month.
“Weinstein is used to doing things a certain way and it has got him this far,” the source said. “The bothersome part is Ben was having a lot of success. Nobody gets stuff like this tossed out especially in such a high-profile case.”
It’s said that Weinstein expected the case against him would somehow evaporate and is having trouble coming to terms with the fact that it will go to trial in the spring. Meanwhile, Brafman, who has helped a string of celebrities dodge trouble, isn’t used to wrestling with his clients for control of the legal strategy.
In addition, there’s a clash of style. In an interview with the Associated Press in June, Brafman described Weinstein as “a forceful personality” who “soaks up all the oxygen in the room.”
Brafman will have to petition the court to be removed from the Weinstein case. Two sources said that Weinstein has not yet hired a new lead defense lawyer and is still making inquiries.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of a range of sexual misconduct, from lewd comments to rape, and he faces numerous lawsuits. The Manhattan case represents the only criminal charges against him.
He has pleaded not guilty and denies any non-consensual sex, though said in a 2017 statement that “the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it… I cannot be more remorseful about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them.”